Mount Vernon’s top lawmaker is calling for an investigation of the city’s Board of Ethics chair following allegations that he made threats and sought to coerce a Councilperson.
Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard issued a statement late on Thursday, April 22 calling for Gregory Cannata’s resignation and a thorough probe into his actions after he allegedly targeted City Councilwoman Janice Duarte.
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“The recent allegations and arrest of Board of Ethics chair Gregory Cannata raise extreme and ethical concerns about the functions and integrity of the board,” the mayor said.
“The alleged threats made by Mr. Cannata towards a city councilperson raises questions about the power of the Board of Ethics welders and the potentially damaging impact it could have if abused.”
Patterson-Howard noted that two members of the Board of Ethics, Cannata and Nicole Lucio are running for public office and that it was her hope that “the position on the Board of Ethics would not be used to coerce, intimidate, or blackmail individuals.”
The mayor noted that there have been recent ethical conflicts of interest that were publicized over the past three years that the Board of Ethics did not review.
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“Unfortunately, Mount Vernon has not been averse to corruption, fraud, waste, and abuse throughout the years,” Patterson-Howard noted. “The revelations and recordings from Councilwoman Duarte have only amplified my questions into how the Board of Ethics operates and what they choose to investigate.
“In the past, they have done a good job investigating the abuses of the current Comptroller and former Mayor, but we continue to find things that raise concerns that were not pursued.”
Patterson-Howard went on to say that Cannata should be asked to resign immediately and called for a full investigation into the Board of Ethics.
“I believe that Mr. Cannata should be asked to resign immediately from his position as Chair of the Board of Ethics,” she said. “As Mr. Cannata was elected as the chair of the Board of Ethics by his members, I ask that this honorable body launch an investigation into Board of Ethics to see if any member, past or present, on the board has used their position to launch similar coerced campaigns against city employees, officials, or residents.”
According to Patterson-Howard, such a report would be made public “and dealt with accordingly.”
“I believe that we all agree that as elected officers we must be held to a high standard, and those who have been appointed to boards should be representative of the community,” she concluded. “I look forward to discussing how we can raise the standard of professionalism and restore trust in government here in Mount Vernon.”
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